An IT, acquisition review/preview

Jason Miller, executive editor, Federal News Radio

Jason Miller | June 4, 2015 3:23 pm

It’s always fun to go back through my files and look at what I covered over the past year. The review gives me an interesting perspective about the changes that happened along the way. It also helps me come up with my predictions for 2012.

I’ve compiled a list of my top technology and acquisition stories for 2011. By no means is this a complete list and it’s not in any specific order. I’ve also came up with five predictions for 2012.

Please feel free to let me know what you think and what are your top stories and predictions at

Top stories for 2011

  • Where is open government? — The administration has been less vocal and there have been fewer initiatives around open government and transparency in 2011.
  • Cloud computing gets its legs in a big way — Agencies moved 40 systems to the cloud and plan for another 79 by June. GSA and USDA successfully migrated email systems to the public cloud.
  • Turnover at the DHS cybersecurity office — Phil Reitinger, Sean McGurk, Randy Vickers and Nicole Dean all left or will be leaving DHS. Mark Weatherford and Susan Spaulding take over leadership positions.
  • White House submits a cyber bill and the lack of action on Capitol Hill around cybersecurity — The administration sent its proposal to Congress in May. There are more than 50 bills under consideration addressing cyber. Members and government officials continue to discuss the need for cyber legislation as attacks on federal and private sector companies continue. But Congress doesn’t move on a bill.
  • Dan Gordon leaving OFPP — Called one of the most qualified administrators in more than a decade, Gordon’s decision to go to George Washington University leaves a huge hole in the acquisition community. It’s less about the quality people at OFPP and more about the impact Gordon has had over the last two years.
  • Suspensions and debarments getting more attention — Two Congressional hearings, a new report on the increased use of suspensions and debarments and the suspension of Iron Bow and two other companies is creating a hostile relationship between government and vendors.
  • debacle — OPM’s decision to take the federal jobs website in-house is causing ramifications that still are to be felt. OPM announced recently the decision to bring in Dave Bowen, former FAA CIO, to be the CTO and take over the management of the site.
  • OFPP launches mythbusters campaign — The goal is to bring industry and agencies closer together. The impact has been limited so far. See the suspension and debarment increase.
  • Acquisition workforce changes — Congress passed the FAI Improvement bill as part of the Defense authorization legislation. OFPP issued new standards and changed the name of contracting officer technical representatives to contracting officer representatives. The number of employees in the acquisition workforce increased and continues to rise.
  • E-Government Fund battle continues — Congress cut the 2011 fund by 76 percent. It restored some of the funding in 2012, but it is still well below the $35 million request. After almost a decade, lawmakers still see the E-Government Fund as a slush fund and not as a way to pay for administration technology priorities.

2012 predictions

  1. Mobile computing makes impact on agencies — The VA’s decision to let iPhones on its network is only the beginning. From the Census to the Army to almost every other agency, mobile devices and mobile apps are going to have a bigger affect on how agencies meet their mission.
  2. OMB finds its shared services strategy is much harder to implement than it thinks — Shared services is something that has been tried in the past with limited success. Yes, the Bush administration consolidated payroll providers, but human resources and financial management initiatives made less progress. The question remains is how OMB will define shared services. If it uses a broad definition such as strategic sourcing, then its goals are attainable.
  3. Strategic sourcing will have a more significant impact on vendors — OFPP and GSA led the effort around office products in 2011. But with wireless devices and plans and print management services on tap for 2012, vendors will see fewer contract opportunities both governmentwide and at the agency level. The administration’s goal is to save $1 billion over the next four years.
  4. Cybersecurity bill gets passed — Senate majority leader Harry Reid promised to take up a comprehensive cybersecurity bill in early 2012. This bodes well for Congress finally to update FISMA and address other issues such as the security of critical infrastructure. But there are plenty of sticking points including the sharing of sensitive cyber data with industry.
  5. The real value of Identity management becomes apparent — Agencies have been handing out HSPD-12 cards for more than five years. But with OMB’s 2012 deadline for agencies to use secure identity cards for logical access, the pilots expected from the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) and NIST’s updates of identity management standards, all of these activities are giving the use and value of identity management a needed push.